Past and present Badgers ready for Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games

Brock University Recreation and Leisure Studies student Jessica Lewis will represent Bermuda at the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games.

Brock University Recreation and Leisure Studies student Jessica Lewis will represent Bermuda at the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games.

For more than a decade, Elisabeth Walker-Young represented Canada as an athlete on the international stage.

But instead of one athlete to worry about, Walker-Young will have 216 to watch over during the next nine days.

The Brock University alumna (BPhEd ’02) is Canada’s chef de mission for the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games, which kick off Friday night with the opening ceremonies at York University’s athletics stadium.

Before becoming one of Canada’s most prolific Paralympic athletes, Walker-Young was a varsity swimmer at Brock in the late 1990s and early 2000s. She went on to compete in four Paralympic games between 1992 and 2004, winning three gold medals, one silver and two bronze, and breaking numerous Canadian and world records.

In Toronto, Walker-Young will be Team Canada’s official spokesperson and is something of the face of the games for Canada. If Curt Harnett, the chef de mission for the Pan Am Games last month in Toronto is any indication, Walker-Young will also find herself extremely busy visiting some of the Games’ many venues around the GTA. These are the largest Parapan Am Games ever with more than 1,600 athletes competing in 15 sports.

Walker-Young has said Canada’s goal is a top three finish in medals, which would be an improvement over the fifth overall finish in Mexico four years ago.

“We used to be leaders in the Paralympic nations, the Canadian Paralympic goal is to become leaders once again in the Paralympic movement,” Walker-Young said in an interview with the Canadian Press recently.

She said she can’t wait to see how Team Canada performs.

I hope they all reach their goals, and if they don’t, I’ll be there to talk them through it. But right now, it’s excitement and a little bit of nerves, for me,” she told the Canadian Press.

One of the 216 Canadian team members Walker-Young will be watching over the next nine days is fellow Brock alum Joel Dembe (BSM ’07). The Hamilton-born Dembe is a wheelchair tennis player who has represented Canada at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, as well as the 2011 Parapan Am Games in Guadalajara and many international wheelchair tennis events.

Among the international athletes competing for medals at the Games is fourth-year Brock University Recreation and Leisure Studies student Jessica Lewis, who is one of three athletes representing Bermuda.

Racing in the 100-, 400-, and 800-metre categories, Lewis will have the chance to win Bermuda’s first-ever Parapan Am medals. Though originally from Bermuda, Lewis trains five days a week at Brock and spends her weekends in Mississauga training alongside many athletes who represent Canada.

Lewis will begin her Parapan Am journey with the T53 100-metre semi-final at 7:26 p.m. on Aug. 12. She’s scheduled to compete 20 minutes later in the T53 400-metre semi-final, and will also compete on Aug. 13 in the 800-metre final. If all goes well, she’ll race the 100-metre final that same day, and the 400-metre final on Aug. 14.

For a full schedule of Parapan events, visit


Elisabeth Walker-Young

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